Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Glitch in Westlaw's Copy With Reference

This is a temporary glitch that I suppose will eventually work itself out, but in the meantime it is best to be aware of a small issue with the feature called "Westlaw Copy With Reference."  In case you don't know it, that feature allows you to copy a block of text from a case with the reference.  You can put the reference in Bluebook format or in ALWD format.  And hey, since my students figured out how to do that I can spend a little less time teaching citation format.  It works quite well and is just one of those amazing things I wish we had back when I was in law school.  Perfect citation format every time.

But here's the issue.  The current Westlaw Copy with Reference (ALWD) seems to still be set for the Fourth edition of the ALWD Guide to Legal Citation rather than the current, can't-tell-it-apart-from-the-Bluebook-anymore Fifth edition.  This means that a citation to an Illinois Appellate Court case will come out like this:

Doe v. Dilling, 861 N.E.2d 1052, 1066 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 2006) aff'd, 888 N.E.2d 24 (Ill. 2008).

Rather than this:

Doe v. Dilling, 861 N.E.2d 1052, 1066 (Ill. App. Ct. 2006) aff'd, 888 N.E.2d 24 (Ill. 2008).

Of course it was more useful to practitioners and scholars to know the district, but that's not the format now for either Bluebook or ALWD.  And yes, I remember to good ole days when all you needed was "Ill. App." rather than "Ill. App. Ct." (because back then everyone realized it was a court.

Is this a big deal?  Obviously not.
Am I trying to avoid grading papers?  Obviously yes.
But in the meantime, Westlaw powers that be should be alerted to the discrepancy in the new edition of ALWD and it's rather fabulous copy with ALWD reference function.

Click here for an UPDATE to this post. 


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As one who spends his day writing briefs for Illinois reviewing courts, this post brings up a question and a pet peeve.

The question: should one cite using Blue Book/ALWD or the Illinois Supreme Court’s citation manual? ( The latter retains the district reference. My assumption has always been: when in Rome, cite like the Roman clerks do. But maybe I’m wrong.

The pet peeve: three years into Illinois’ public-domain citation system, Copy with Reference still doesn’t cite to it. Illinois lawyers, please complain to Westlaw. You have nothing to lose but your typos.

Posted by: Michael Orenstein | Nov 7, 2014 7:42:09 AM

The trackback feature of the blog does not appear to be working. I am, therefore, taking the liberty of drawing attention to my reflections on the more general issues raised by this post by way of a link:

Posted by: Peter W. Martin | Nov 14, 2014 1:29:17 PM

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